The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

Bet on Cities

Tentative thesis: Cities, not countries, are the true unit of human civilization. Two data points:

  • The book Barbarians to Angels, which I tore through whilst SFO-JFK-CDG. The author, Peter Wells, tries to reframe the Dark Ages as not, well, the Dark Ages, but rather as just another period of growth and development. The important bit: Almost all of the important towns of Roman Europe, all the way up into Britain and Scandinavia, just kept on growing during the Dark Ages. There was no great ruin, no abandonment. Just the opposite: There was continuity.
  • And then cross-ref with the percolating potential of this post over at O’Reilly about participatory planning in cities.

Oh yeah, and maybe also:

  • Paris

(Got the book recommendation from @bldgblog, and I pass it along to you.)

April 6, 2009 / Uncategorized


Or wait, is this totally old news to everybody else?

Not a bad call (tho, I did come here expecting some major Civ Game strategy). I think a third point would be the ancient marvels being closely related to their cities. We are agog at what the Incans did as a culture, but it is brought home by seeing the remnants of Machu Picchu. Egyptian Tombs, Rome, etc.

I love a good city-oriented history/sociology, and I do think there’s something to it. Cities are economic engines, centers of trade and confluence, culture and building and religion and education.

But we citi-zens probably shouldn’t forget that almost all of our food comes from the countryside. Also, it’s not insignificant that the units of language and of warfare are pretty much delimited according to the nation-state.

So I want to say something like it’s the network of cities with their surroundings and with one another that are what make civilization, and that there is no real UNIT to be found. The insight, though, is that borders matter much less than these networks — imagine a map that could be drawn accordingly.

@Tim; I like it! The Delaunay/Voronoi theory of city/nation/borderhood! Or something…

Whoah — Peter — there is a dope Processing app to be made based around this idea. Even if it didn’t actually reveal anything important, it would look amazing.

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